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World’s most productive tuna fishing grounds to host 'bycatch' researchers

 PAGO PAGO, American Samoa —The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) continues its global #BycatchProject with a new cruise set to embark in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).

The goal of the project is to develop and test technical options to reduce bycatch associated with large‐scale purse seine fishing on fish aggregating devices (FADs).

The Cape Finisterre, a purse seine vessel owned by TriMarine will spend the next 45 day period in the Pacific, permitted to conduct fishing and research in the areas of the Cook Islands, Tokelau, Kiribati (Phoenix, Gilbert Islands), Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands.

 The large ocean region that will be the focus of this study is fished by a diverse range of vessel types and fleets, that use a broad range of equipment and technology. Researchers onboard plan to examine multiple issues related to catch and bycatch, spanning the period from before the vessel reaches the FAD to when the catch is finally unloaded in port.

David Itano from Pelagic Fisheries Research Program at the University of Hawaii is the Principal Investigator for the cruise and will be accompanied by four technical assistants. This will be the first time researchers with the #BycatchProject will conduct work in the WCPO.

“Chartering an actual purse seiner to use as an experimental platform for research and trials, gives scientists an opportunity to test technical solutions expeditiously under different conditions. Time onboard fishing vessels allows researchers to test their ideas with the same type of vessel and equipment used every day to fish for tuna around the world, except that they can do it in a controlled experimental setting.” said Dr. Victor Restrepo, Chair of the ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee.

The cruise has a detailed set of strategies, objectives and techniques it will set out to accomplish while at sea including: estimating the species composition and abundance of bycatch species at FADs through underwater visual censuses and acoustic surveys; studying and analyzing the natural behavior of tuna and bycatch; and ensuring the safe release and post-release survival of sharks and other large animals.

For real-time updates from researchers follow the #BycatchProject and @ISSF on Twitter and learn more about the cruise.

About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization, promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health.

To learn more, visit their website at

(Source: ISSF media release)